Complex contradictions in a contemporary idealised feminine body project

Shelagh Ferguson, Jan Brace-Govan, Bridget Welsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study is to critically investigate a contemporary version of the idealised female body, the ‘athletic ideal’, characterised by toned abdominal muscles, thin waistlines, well-rounded buttocks and low body fat. In an evolving social media landscape where messages about women’s bodies as simultaneously slim, strong and empowered proliferate, how are the ambiguities of this body project experienced, and where do young women find support? We adopted a qualitative approach, using both diaries and in-depth interviews with 14 participants aged 18–22. The results examine the sense-making strategies used by women to navigate this idealised feminine body and consider the impact of marketplace resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-215
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Marketing Management
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • athletic ideal
  • Female body
  • Instagram influencer
  • marketplace resources
  • protein powder

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